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The Racket Continues

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) commends the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for its investigation into the illegal rosewood trade from Nigeria. We note the convergence of the investigation’s results with EIA’s own findings, presented a year ago in the “The Rosewood Racket” report, including the prevalence of corruption schemes implicating officials responsible for issuing CITES permits. Despite the listing of Pterocarpus erinaceus (called “kosso” in Nigeria) on Appendix II of the Convention since 2 January 2017 and the recommendations from the Standing Committee at its 69th meeting (SC69), the rosewood racket persists in Nigeria. EIA’s new research indicates that well-organized traffickers are taking from the wild and exporting in violation of the Convention as many specimens of P. erinaceus as materially possible, without any consideration for the impacts of the uncontrolled and massive harvest on the standing populations. Nigeria exported over one million cubic meters Round Wood Equivalent (RWE) of the African rosewood – approximately four million trees – from 2 January 2017 until 31 March 2018. This likely represents the largest violation of the Convention in history. EIA’s investigation shows that the first signs of commercial extinction of P. erinaceus have emerged, while pressure on the last stands of wild populations located in areas under protection is accelerating. The Nigerian kosso case illustrates more fundamental concerns regarding the implementation – or lack thereof – of CITES species listings in a timely andeffective manner. The fact that Nigeria has been able to export excessive amounts of illegal kosso since its listing, without a required science-based non-detriment finding (NDF) nor the required verification of legal acquisition (VLA) is most worrying.

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